Painted Desert, partially contained in the northern part of Petrified Forest National Park, is an area of colorful badlands that displays a variety of hues. Representing more than 200-million-year-old-soil layers and river channels turned red from oxidation of iron minerals and then to stone, the desert's colorful erosion effects were created over the millennia by sculpturing from wind and water. Overlooks with an especially scenic view include Chinde Point, Kachina Point, Pintado Point, Tawa Point and Tiponi Point.
The Painted Desert Visitor Center, located in the Painted Desert Community Complex off I-40, offers restrooms, a short loop walking trail, a gas station, exhibits and a 20-minute film that explains park resources, including how wood is petrified.
Visitor center is open daily at 7, late Feb.-late Oct.; at 8, rest of year. Closing hours may vary due to the season; phone ahead to confirm schedule. Closed Christmas. Phone ahead to confirm schedule.